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Liberal MP attended Boost Campaign Fundraiser

The facade of “Libdependence” is wearing thin in campus politics

Julian Leeser and Josie Jakovac pictured at a Liberal Party function

Editors Pranay Jha and Liam Thorne are not involved in the 2019 coverage of the Honi Soit, NUS and SRC elections.

Despite repeatedly claiming independence in this year’s SRC presidential campaign, Josie Jakovac has confirmed the attendance of Federal Member for Berowra, The Hon. Julian Leeser MP at Boost’s fundraising event earlier this month.  

Jakovac and co-Campaign Manager Julia Kokic initially denied the involvement of Mr Leeser until they were informed that his office had confirmed his attendance at the fundraiser. 

“Julian briefly attended our Fundraiser not the launch.”

“He did so before the auctioneer arrived as he had a flight to catch,” they said.

A spokesperson for Mr Leeser denied that he was involved in funding Jakovac’s campaign. 

“He attended [Josie’s] launch because she worked for him in the past,” the spokesperson said.

Fundraisers are held by SRC brands to source funds for campaign equipment including T-shirts and A-frames within the allocated campaign spending cap. The funds are conventionally raised by an auction of student politics memorabilia.

Jakovac, one of two independent candidates for this year’s SRC presidential campaign, was formerly employed by Mr Leeser as an electorate officer in a role which would have entailed research and organising briefing notes and correspondence for Mr Leeser’s electorate office in Pennant Hills. 

Mr Leeser, a member of the Moderate wing of the Liberal Party, took over from conservative Liberal MP Phillip Ruddock in the safe blue ribbon seat of Berowra in 2016.

Like Jakovac, Leeser entered conservative politics at a young age. He surpassed student politics and became Australia’s youngest-ever Woollahra councillor and the youngest elected delegate to the constitutional convention.

His resume also includes a seat on the board of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. In a speech in Parliament last year, Leeser commended the Ramsay Centre and described himself as an “architect of the [Ramsay] Centre’s program, mission and structure.”

In 2017, Leeser voted for the Higher Education Support Legislation amendment that sought to reduce Commonwealth funding for the tuition costs of university students, and increase individual student contributions. 

The bill also proposed that students commence their university repayments at lower income levels. 

Concurrently, Jakovac’s campaign proposes an inquest into student homelessness and student hunger that is dependent on Student Representative and Union support for low socio-economic students at USyd. 

Liberal candidates have claimed “independence” in student elections with increasing frequency since 2010. 

Back in 2017, Liberal-aligned Vision for SRC campaign was privately funded, in part, through Liberal Party members. A secret event titled “Vision for USYD SRC (Libs Only) Launch and Fundraiser” charged entry tickets at $20 for general admission and $15 for students.

In this year’s Honi interview, Jakovac admitted membership of the Liberal Party’s left-leaning faction, the Moderates.

When asked what had drawn her to the Liberals, Jakovac said, “Individualism, that freedom of expression, that results-driven outlook to things… the incredible value in hard work.”

Her Boost campaign however is “independent” and run by a “diverse team of people from a variety of political persuasions, united by a push for student services and student welfare through the SRC,” according to co-Campaign Manager Julia Kokic.

Jakovac’s Grassroots rival, Liam Donohoe, told Honi that he was uncertain whether he was still a member of the Greens, having initially signed up to have a say in party preselections.

When asked about party membership, Donohoe paused for several seconds.

“This is going to sound really bad,” he said. “I actually don’t know.”

“I was a member of the Greens and never renewed my membership but I still receive emails from them.” 

Honi invited comment from the office of Julian Leeser on Jakovac’s electoral ambitions.

A spokesperson for Mr Leeser told Honi that he “wishes [Josie] well.”

Pre-polling is open today at the Jane Foss Russell Plaza between 10am and 3pm. Polling opens across campus on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th of September.

More to come.

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